The 'Shroom:Issue XL/Non-Marioverse Review
This month for issue XL, we will be reviewing Katamari Damacy, a Playstation 2 game released in 2004 by Namco.
Few games are as instantly charming as this one. It begins when The King of All Cosmos (yes, THE King of All Cosmos) accidentally knocks all the stars out of the night sky. Whoops. The job of restoring them has been passed down to you, the pint‐sized prince. But how can you do it? By rolling everything on earth into giant clumps to fill the holes in the sky.
Still with me? Good. The concept is simple: you push around a Katamari, a large ball‐like object, and pick up everything in your path. At the start of the game you’re in an average Japanese household, rolling up tiny objects such as pushpins and erasers. As the Katamari picks up more stuff, however, it grows larger in size and can roll up bigger things, like animals and people – and eventually, skyscrapers and steamships!
As the idea behind Katamari Damacy isn’t too hard to understand, pretty much anyone could play it without prior knowledge of video games. You need only be prepared for the wacky humour found in the game. Take for example the things The King says. You may think it’s poor translation (like the early days of the NES), but really he just has an overly extravagant and exaggerated style of speech.
I cannot think of anything more satisfying than having an enormous Katamari, hearing the screams of thousands of poor civilians as you lump them up with their own homes. You can even roll up clouds and islands! The sheer absurdity of it all is part of what makes the game so unbelievably fun. You may be taken aback by the incredibly simple concept behind Katamari Damacy, but you’ll find after the first couple levels that this game is downright addicting.
The graphics have a slightly cel‐shaded look about them, with an appealingly bright (but not too saturated) color palette that makes the game look like what it is – fun and childlike. The soundtrack is something people either adore or find annoying. I for one immensely enjoy the music in this game. It is a blend of popular Japanese music with some jazz, tango, mambo and a little rock. The diversity keeps it interesting. Luckily, all but one of the songs has vocals in Japanese, so those who normally feel distracted by lyrics in BGM will be able to focus on the gameplay more easily.
The length of the game, while short, works well with the concept. While Katamari Damacy is fun from beginning to end, players with short attention spans wouldn’t be able to finish it if it were much longer. And although some may beat the game in a day, there are still lots of little extras that will keep you glued to it for a while longer, particularly the ability to roll up Presents. Most levels have these hidden somewhere and the prince has to find them and roll them up into the Katamari, and keep them in the Katamari to the end. It’s a real challenge finding them all, however.
It’s the not the greatest game in history, but Katamari is undeniably silly fun and no doubt one of the most original games on the market plus a personal favorite. So I give it a high…